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With investment and vision, Dover can become a jewel in the crown of the nation

Last week Dover Harbour Board announced that two new community directors will be appointed to the board. This shows how much has changed in recent years. Back in 2010 the port was about to be sold off to the French or whoever. All that was needed was the flick of the Minister's pen and the port would have been gone.

People felt deeply that Dover should remain Forever England. That there needed to be more investment and regeneration at the port. A closer partnership was needed between port, community and the port users to realise the true potential of the port and waterfront. Finally the port needed to benefit the town.

So the People's Port Trust was born to fight the sell off. If they were going to sell it, we would buy it. Funds were raised in the City of London. An offer was made to the Government. A referendum was held and 98% voted for Dover the sell off to be stopped. The turnout was higher than the previous district council elections.

The People's Port campaign stopped the sell off. Yet more reform was needed to see the port benefit the town.

Earlier this year the Ports Minister came to Dover and set out a programme for reform. The port would have the powers to raise the funds it needed. This nailed the lie that privatisation was the only way to raise the money. The Minister announced there would be a port community fund to benefit our community. Finally he announced that community directors would be appointed by the community to secure the community interest in the boardroom.

The Harbour Board has made much progress. The port's rules have been changed to allow the port to raise investment it needs. Already, there is an exciting vision for the Western Docks Revival. The community benefit fund is being established. People feel it's not enough and I want to see it increased too. Yet the principle has been secured. Finally a process took place to appoint a community director. Local residents Neil Wiggins and Samantha Parker have been appointed. Many congratulations and best of luck to them both in their service.

We have come a long way in less than five short years. More has been achieved than anyone thought possible. The new leadership at the Harbour Board has achieved much they can be proud of.

The next stage is to secure the investment needed to transform the port. The Western Docks Revival is a great plan. My vision is that the town centre development should cross over the A20 properly to join town and waterfront. To see the Marine Station no longer marooned but at the heart of a great waterside development. To see Dover a destination for visitors to come to, not pass through. With investment and vision, Dover can be a jewel in the crown of the nation once more.

Conservative run Dover District Council is moving ahead with plans to demolish Burlington House and redevelop the site on Dover's Townwall Street. Do you support this?

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Dover & Deal Conservative Association, 54 The Strand, Walmer, Deal, Kent   CT14 7DP
Tel: 01304 379669      Email: enquiries@doverconservatives.com